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Visa Waiver Program - Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Not all countries participate in the VWP. Some restrictions apply to this program.

Note: Representatives of the foreign press, radio, film, journalists or other information media, engaging in that vocation while in the U.S., require a nonimmigrant Media I visa cannot travel to the U.S. on the VWP and cannot travel using a visitor visa, seeking admission by the DHS immigration inspector, into the U.S. at the port of entry.


What do I need to know about the VWP and the required Machine Readable Passport?

The Secretary of State, working with the Department of Homeland Security, has granted a postponement until October 26, 2004, as the date by which VWP travelers from 21 countries must present a Machine Readable Passport at a U.S. port of entry to be admitted to the U.S. without a visa, otherwise a U.S. visa is required. Four countries will continue with the October 1, 2003 deadline. Starting October 26, 2004, VWP travelers from all 27 VWP countries must present either a machine-readable passport or a U.S. visa. The Patriot Act legislated the Machine Readable Passport requirement for VWP travelers and additionally gave the Secretary of State authority to postpone the effective date.

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Which countries have followed the October 1, 2003 deadline for Machine Readable Passport?

Four VWP countries – Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia – did not request a postponement of the Machine Readable Passport effective date, because all or virtually all of their citizens already have Machine Readable Passports.

As of October 1, 2003, visa waiver travelers from Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia must present either a Machine Readable Passport or a U.S. visa at the port of entry to enter the U.S. This includes all categories of passports – regular, diplomatic, and official, when the traveler is seeking to enter the U.S. for business or tourist purposes, for a maximum of 90 days without needing a visa.

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